I have said that there is no such thing as local in the social media whirl. It appears I was wrong, certainly in the area of politics according to a recent piece of in house research. The Staffer Index shows that not only is all politics local, but also political digital media, is local. When asked which sites policy advisors turn to first thing in the morning they revealed it is primarily their local mainstream online outlets such as BBC in London. Other online sources such as dedicated political blogs and their respective government policy sites also emerged as points of interest. The one exception to the rule was Google/Google News which was the only site that was accessed across all markets.
So are policy wonks remorselessly parochial, tied only to the latest local twitter storm and the needs of their constituents? The research and common sense reasoning would suggest yes – of course they scrutinize the world anxiously for anything that gives an edge in the local debate. But I do feel that there is another need that feeds this constituency focus and that is the need to be a digital citizen and one that takes a global view of issues comparing policy stances between different nations. A great example is the US healthcare debate where the very local American decision about the model for the US industry has become a global conversation.
Another surprise is that a fifth of the policy shaping class have changed their position based on an online resource. Seventy one percent of respondents say they first hear of a policy development via online media. My instinct is that there are two forces at play firstly the local needs of the digital constituents and secondly a bigger more strategic need to be a digital citizen who is engaged with the international dimension of the policy debate.